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Publications

Managing Dynamic Change in the Midwestern Power Sector: Power Shift Midwestern Regional Workshop

Authors: Kate Konschnik

Market-shifts, technological innovation, and clean energy policies are driving a fundamental transformation of the U.S. power sector. This proceedings describes four critical grid issues in the Midwest discussed at the Power Shift's Minnesota meeting: evolving stakeholder processes, power sector fleet transfer, the impact of electric cars on the grid, and responses to changing consumer demand. The range of potential research inspired by the discussion—including whether state regulatory processes help or hinder big shifts underway on the grid, how state climate goals affect regional generation patterns, how stakeholder processes and market trends interact, whether utilities should attempt to spark demand for electric vehicles, and whether customer demands or public policies are driving innovation—points to the sea change in the U.S. power sector.
Publications

Regional Implications of National Carbon Taxes

Author: Martin Ross

This analysis published in the journal Climate Change Economics examines impacts of nationally-imposed carbon taxes on different regions of the United States. The goal is to see what can be learned about the drivers of regional political support for and opposition to such measures. Whether at the state, regional or national levels, carbon taxes are one option for reducing greenhouse gas emissions; several state and regional programs are already under way and lowering emissions. This analysis uses a U.S. regional version of the Dynamic Integrated Economy/Energy/Emissions Model (DIEM) computable general equilibrium model to explore relationships between carbon taxes, emissions, and economic growth.

Publications

The Future of the Electricity Industry: Implications of Trends and Taxes

Author: Martin Ross

This analysis published in the journal Energy Economics examines how changes in market trends and technology costs are likely to affect electricity generation in the United States in the context of possible future carbon taxes. It uses the Dynamic Integrated Economy/Energy/Emissions Model (DIEM) electricity-sector model to examine a wide range of sensitivity cases for technology and fuel costs under different economic conditions. The model finds that carbon taxes can be an effective way to quickly lower emissions. Shifts among natural gas and renewable generation can vary significantly, depending on capital and operating costs.

Publications

A Spatially-Resolved Inventory Analysis of the Water Consumed by the Coal-to-Gas Transition of Pennsylvania

Authors: Sarah Jordaan, Lauren Patterson, Laura Diaz Anadon

In the Journal of Cleaner Production, the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions Lauren Patterson and her co-authors look at changes in water consumption related to transitions from coal to natural gas in Pennsylvania from 2009 to 2012. The study provides the first comprehensive representation of changing water consumption patterns associated with the state’s coal-to-gas transition at a watershed level for both extraction of the resources to the generation of electricity with coal and natural gas.

Publications

Reducing Fugitive Methane Emissions from the North American Oil and Gas Sector: A Proposed Science-Policy Framework

Authors: Kate Konschnik and Sarah Marie Jordaan

Atmospheric methane concentrations continue to increase globally, despite a pledge in 2016 from the leaders of the United States, Canada, and Mexico to reduce methane emissions from each country’s oil and gas sector. Additionally, the trilateral methane pledge faces more challenges as the Trump Administration seeks to reverse federal methane research and control efforts. Efforts to measure and control fugitive methane emissions do not presently proceed within a coherent framework that integrates science and policy. A new article in the journal Climate Policy suggests that collectively or individually, the countries, individual agencies, or private stakeholders could use the proposed North American Methane Reduction framework to direct research, enhance monitoring and evaluate mitigation efforts, and improve the chances that continental methane reduction targets will be achieved.

Publications

Water Stress from High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing Potentially Threatens Aquatic Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in Arkansas, United States

Authors: Sally Entrekin , Anne Trainor, James Saiers, Lauren Patterson, Kelly Maloney, Joseph Fargione, Joseph Kiesecker, Sharon Baruch-Mordo, Katherine Konschnik, Hannah Wiseman, Jean-Philippe Nicot, and Joseph N. Ryan

Demand for high-volume, short duration water withdrawals could create water stress to aquatic organisms in the Fayetteville Shale streams of Arkansas sourced for hydraulic fracturing fluids this article in the journal Environmental Science and Technology suggests. Authors estimate potential water stress using permitted water withdrawal volumes and actual water withdrawals compared to monthly median, low, and high streamflows. Findings indicate that freshwater usage for hydraulic fracturing could potentially affect aquatic organisms in 7-51 percent of the catchments depending on the month. If 100 percent of wastewater was recycled, the potential impact drops. Authors suggest that improved monitoring and access to water withdrawal and streamflow data are needed to ensure protection of streams not only as sources of drinking water, but aquatic habitats.

Publications

Implications of Sustainable Development Considerations for Comparability across Nationally Determined Contributions

Authors: Gokul Iyer, Katherine Calvin, Leon Clarke, James Edmonds, Nathan Hulman, Corinne Hartin, Haewon McJeon, Joseph Aldy, and William Pizer

An important component of the Paris Agreement is the assessment of comparability across nationally determined contributions. Links between mitigation and other societal priorities, including but not limited to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, raises the question of how such links might influence comparability assessments. Using a global integrated assessment model, this analysis in the journal Nature Climate Change suggests that accounting for interactions between mitigation and other Sustainable Development Goals would alter comparability assessments. The analysis provides a foundation for assessing how comparability across nationally determined contributions could be better understood in the larger context of sustainability.

Publications

Financing Fisheries Reform: Blended Capital Approaches in Support of Sustainable Wild-Capture Fisheries

Authors: Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions and the Environmental Defense Fund

Many fisheries around the world are considered an economically underperforming asset—providing lower returns than they could be if more sustainably managed. This report, co-authored by researchers at the Environmental Defense Fund and the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions, introduces the idea of a blended capital approach to fill the all-too-common finance gap that may hamper recovery of many fisheries. The report describes the categories of investment required to attain fisheries sustainability at each stage of the recovery process, identifies where within this framework there is likely to be the biggest funding gap, and suggests possible approaches for philanthropic and public capital to leverage private capital to help fill the gap. 

Publications

China's New National Carbon Market

Authors: William A. Pizer and Xiliang Zhang

On December 19, 2017, China announced the official start of its national emissions trading system (ETS) construction program. When fully implemented, this program could more than double the volume of worldwide carbon dioxide emissions covered by either tax or tradable permit policy. Many of program’s design features reflect those of China’s pilot programs but widely differ from those of emissions trading programs in the United States and Europe. For that reason, the workings of Chinese national carbon market are both intriguing and unfamiliar to those experienced with western markets. This paper explains the design of China’s new carbon market, contrasts it with western markets, and highlights possible implications. It also presents research questions raised by the design.

Publications

Understanding the Interaction between Regional Electricity Markets and State Policies

Author(s): Sarah K. Adair and Franz T. Litz

Regional electricity markets—operated by regional transmission organizations (RTOs)—span multiple states and bring significant benefits to the electricity grid. States policies—such as renewable or clean energy portfolio standards or procurement mandates—have always helped shape market outcomes, but increasingly they are aimed at addressing perceived market shortcomings. Recent state policy actions to support new or existing resources in RTO markets have renewed attention to issues of RTO market design, including how RTO markets and state policies interact. Those actions, a rapidly changing electricity sector, and low electricity and capacity prices have heightened the urgency of calls for changes in market designs to address perceived inequities, such as market designs that fail to value certain environmental or reliability attributes. This primer is aimed at policy makers and stakeholders who seek an understanding of regional electricity markets and the effect of state policies on those markets as well as an understanding of recent market design proposals that are designed to address the RTO-state policies interaction. 

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